Is it Really Necessary to Clean Air Ducts?
The condition of the air ducts in your commercial building can have a significant effect on indoor air quality and comfort. Leaking air ducts, for example, can let cooled or heated air escape unused, wasting energy and money and driving up your monthly bills. Many HVAC industry professionals believe that the quality of the air ducts can affect indoor air quality. But is it really necessary to clean air ducts? In some circumstances, the answer is a definite yes. In others, it may be a good idea to confer with your trusted HVAC pro before spending money to clean air ducts.
What Can Happen With Dirty Air Ducts?
Air ducts carry the heated or cooled air produced by your HVAC system to all points inside your facility, providing comfort and temperature control in summer and winter. Dirty air ducts can certainly cause problems in a commercial establishment. For example, if there is dust or dirt inside the ducts, it can be dislodged and carried along with the conditioned air coming from your air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace. It enters the air inside your building and lowers air quality.
Persons with allergies or existing respiratory conditions can be particularly affected by contaminants and particulates coming from your HVAC system air ducts. If indoor air quality drops low enough, some occupants of the building could experience asthma or allergy attacks.
The Duct Cleaning Controversy
There are some members of the HVAC community who have a low opinion of duct cleaning. They believe that duct cleaning is rarely necessary since ducts are largely concealed and out of the way. They further suggest that duct cleaning companies can be seen as offering an unneeded service at best and perpetrating outright fraud on their customers at worst.
This is an extreme negative view of air duct cleaning, and other industry sources take a more moderate approach. Many absolutely reputable HVAC companies offer duct cleaning services. They recognize that sometimes, a duct cleaning is necessary, both to remove pollutants and to give business owners peace of mind.
An additional benefit of duct cleaning is that it allows a trained professional the opportunity to inspect your ductwork from end to end. Any damage, loose or missing sections, broken seals, or other problems can be identified and corrected as part of the duct cleaning service.
Reasons to Clean Air Ducts
There are three circumstances under which it is necessary to clean air ducts. These are recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which recommends duct cleaning when these conditions exist.
- When mold is obviously present and visible on the interior surfaces of the ductwork. Mold can be a major contributor to respiratory problems, allergy attacks, and asthma aggravation. In some cases, mold can have other harmful health effects. Remember that some harmless substances can look like mold, so any suspected mold should be tested before have cleaning performed.
- When air ducts have been infested with insects, birds, rodents, or small animals. The fur, droppings, nests, and body parts of these creatures can be unsanitary and could also trigger respiratory effects.
- When ducts are clogged with dirt or other debris that impedes or completely blocks air flow. As air moves through the ducts and over the debris, small particles can be dislodged and carried into your indoor air.
Though these are the only circumstances given an official government endorsement, other conditions could support a duct cleaning. Ducts that have been unused for a long time, for example, could have built-up dust, dirt, and other debris. Ductwork beneath floors could contain substances and objects that have fallen through the floor registers and into the ducts.
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